If you’re a Latin entrepreneur in Charlotte, chances are, you’re a member of the Latin American Chamber of Commerce, you’ve taken business classes at CPCC, or you’ve spoken with one of the bilingual SCORE mentors. But have you heard of Prospera?
Last year, CBR was excited to welcome Prospera as a partner of our resource network. Launched in 1991, Prospera has empowered Hispanic entrepreneurs by providing training, support, and resources. As a fully bilingual organization, Prospera has assisted countless business owners to transition their business to the Charlotte market and provide the tools they need to prosper.
To learn more about the resources Prospera provides, we asked them for some additional insight into their services and received some expert advice on how Latinos can successfully start a small business in Charlotte.
CBR: Does Prospera serve businesses in all business stages or just startups?
Prospera: We offer a variety of services that are valuable for both startups and established businesses. Our orientations are intended for startups, while our workshops provide in-depth information on a variety of topics that are valuable for companies at any stage. Our consulting services help identify the needs and opportunities of businesses at any stage, including assistance to access capital for growing established businesses.
CBR: What have you seen as the most prominent hurdles for Latino entrepreneurs who are starting a business in Charlotte? What about growing?
Prospera: The main hurdle for Latino entrepreneurs is adjusting to the U.S. business culture, rules and regulations, tax and banking system, human resource laws—and having to do so outside of their native language. This of course, in addition to the challenges that all other entrepreneurs face establishing a solid foundation, such as doing enough research, preparing and planning adequately, creating a long-term vision and effective business plan, saving enough capital, and surrounding themselves with advisors with different types of expertise.
CBR: How does Prospera help them overcome those challenges?
Prospera: Prospera helps the entrepreneur analyze every aspect of their business before they get started and as they work to grow and expand. Our business consultants provide ongoing guidance and support to clients, serving as an extension of their staff. We guide entrepreneurs by the hand along the process of securing traditional loans or micro-loans. We also serve as liaisons between the entrepreneur and vetted local experts on a variety of subjects, from accounting to marketing to business planning.
CBR: What are some common misconceptions that Latinos have when it comes to starting a business in the US?
Prospera: There’s a general lack of understanding about the rules and regulations they need to heed when starting a business, such as licenses, permits, tax responsibilities, zoning considerations, legal contracts, personal credit. Frequent misconceptions include thinking it is easy to secure loans, that competition can be beaten with price alone, that the person will have more free time if they have their own business, that a business can operate and grow to its full potential by employing only family members, and that bringing in investors or partners can be damaging.
CBR: For someone who is new in the US and wants to start a business, what are the first steps?
Prospera: The first step we recommend is to have a general idea of what type of business the person wants to start. Then, look for help from the local resources available. Prospera is an excellent place to begin the process as we provide bilingual and in-culture guidance. We can help them in their language and their own culture and will provide assistance to help them get started to research, analyze the market and the competition, build a credit, save money, focus on customers and get expert advisors. Come to Prospera for advice if you’re in North Carolina or Florida.
CBR: What can people expect when scheduling a strategy session?
Prospera: We aim to be your business partner, looking out for your best interest but all of our services are entirely free and require no obligations from the businesses we help. Clients need to arrive prepared with information and documents that will allow us to do a more in-depth analysis of their business or idea. They will participate in every step of the process, and our consultants will work with them to build a more sustainable and longer-lasting business.
Are you an immigrant business owner? What unique challenges have you faced when it comes to starting or growing your business in the states? Let us know by tweeting us @CBRBiz!